Cleverly ready for Kovalev power
Nathan Cleverly is confident he has the chin to cope with anything Russian powerhouse Sergey Kovalev throws his way in Saturday's WBO light heavyweight title bout in Cardiff.
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The Welshman is making the fifth defence of his crown and is putting his 26-0 record on the line against Kovalev, who has developed a reputation for stopping fights in their infancy with his formidable power.
Of his 21 professional wins, Kovalev has won 18 of them by KO inside three rounds and he is the bookmakers' favourite for the Motorpoint Arena contest.
The side-effect of his explosive record is he has yet to be tested over a 12-round contest, and his ability to go the distance remains a question mark.
Cleverly is confident he can handle any early onslaught and test his opponent's endurance.
He said: "We all know Sergey's record, it speaks for itself.
"It is no secret, he starts fast and comes to knock you out, but I have got a great chin and I am prepared for that.
"Obviously he has wiped out his previous opponents but I feel I am at a different level now and I will be there after three rounds, and I will be there for the full fight.
"It is going to be very hard for him to beat me on the night because of my stamina, my chin and my speed.
"It is going to be very difficult for him."
Cleverly and Kovalev opted to take each other on after both parties failed to put together a bout with IBF belt holder Bernard Hopkins.
But the Welshman is happy to take on an opponent eager to get in the ring, rather than think of what may have been in terms of taking on Hopkins.
"Hopkins did not want to fight, but I want to fight," said the 26-year-old.
"Now we have two guys who want to fight, so it is going to be a great fight, a proper fight.
"It will be two hungry guys, two undefeated guys. That is what people want to see because someone has to lose for the first time."
Cleverly's father and trainer Vince has been convinced of victory throughout the build-up.
"I see a Nathan Cleverly victory," he said. "Sergey knows he has been knocked down before and he knows his chin can be his weakest point.
"He has been down in the amateurs. I have never seen an amateur that has turned pro and not been knocked down in the pro game.
"Sergey has got a great big chin for Nathan to land on and unfortunately he is going to be on the canvas on Saturday night."
But Kovalev said: "Nathan's camp are welcome to their opinion. He is a great fighter otherwise he would not be a world champion.
"But they should not think that I will not be able to go 12 rounds. I do not train to only fight three rounds, I fight to go the distance. I am ready for this fight."